Ray LaMontagne (Inadvertently) Talks About Sacred Sensual Living

1225151546~2I was moved to hear Ray LaMontagne sum up in a beautiful way some of the main ideas I play with through Sacred Sensual Living:

 

“I work really hard to stay grounded, to realize everyday how lucky I am, and we are, just to exist on this planet in this universe, and be aware of it. We’re so lucky and it’s so beautiful. And awesome in the true sense of the word. Really just awesome. Existence is just awesome.

Our culture is so far removed from that and people get so consumed with stuff and things, and things that just aren’t really important. And a total disconnection from nature, which has been here forever and is gonna be here forever. I want to stay connected to that.

That’s where I feel, like, that’s church for me, laying in the grass watching the moon come up and looking at the stars. That’s like talking to God, I mean that’s as close as I’ll ever get to talk to God. And it’s right there at your fingertips everyday.

Anyone can do it. You can just take a minute and lay on the ground. And it’s right there for you. That sense of peace and groundedness is available to you all the time.

I think people get so separated from it, they get anxiety and depression, and what you don’t realize is it’s all right there, it’s all available every second of every day. All you have to do is look at it.”

– Ray LaMontagne, in an interview with David Dye on World Cafe, 4/5/16

Ray’s new album is Ouroboros (produced by Jim James – see Music Spirit Love). Listen to Ray play Ouroboros live and hear the complete interview below. The album is meant to be listened to in its entirety, but I can’t help but point out two beautiful songs: In My Own Way and Wouldn’t It Make a Lovely Photograph – dreamy & sensual. Check them out…

 

Embracing Earthy Energy

Iris budI opened the front door this morning and the sweet, warm smell of freshly mown grass rolled into the house. I peered out over the exploding fuchsia Rhododendron blooms and saw the first irises unfolding their silky layers and splaying into fragile plumes. Bird songs filled the air, like a soundtrack for the cinematic colors and lush textures of spring.Iris4

When the Sun in in Taurus, we’re more in tune with our physical bodies and the pleasure we derive from our sensory experiences. We gravitate toward what nourishes us, both physically and on a soul level. Just-picked strawberries and tender asparagus (or maybe for you it’s bar-b-que’d ribs on the grill) soothe our souls. After the wrapped-up winter, our skin welcomes a brush of soft air and it’s mild enough to linger with another under the stars.

Iris3aIt’s the perfect season to ask: What moves your soul? Maybe it’s cooking an al fresco dinner for friends or going to see live music at your favorite local spot. Indulge. Let yourself feel it, hear it and taste it. Relish. Let the physical world nurture your deepest and most authentic you. Luxuriate. irisPleasure leads to well-being. And well-being is the sister of intuition – you’ll get in tune with the signs and symbols that grace your life and show you the easier, more natural way.

So go ahead and linger in the morning bakery, sip the cold glass of chardonnay in the garden while admiring your irises and give someone you love a back rub. It’s all sweet music to your soul.Iris w&p

Essential Beauty

Beauty is a portal to your divinity, your sacred source. That’s the one thing I know for sure. (Love is the answer – that’s a close second.) Gazing at a Beautiful painting or sunset can calm or uplift you, delight or soothe. Beauty surrounds you, if you are looking through the right lens, and it’s presence elevates your energy. Listening to songbirds or love songs, strolling along a woodland path, licking a melting chocolate cone – your senses appreciate when you indulge in Beauty. The simple Beauties of life. The profound Beauty that hugs your spirit and tickles your soul. Beauty is fun. Beauty is achingly sad. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – subjective, changing, fading… untrappable, fluid, mysterious. You are Beauty. Beauty communicates, sometimes silently, other times bellowing out her proud and colorful power. Like the wind announcing the storm. The gushing creek announcing the arrival of spring. Let Beauty guide you to the flow.

Olive Branch

A Few of My Favorite Things

I’ve come across several “I’m taking a break for the holidays” messages on other sites lately and I agree with that idea wholeheartedly! With the Winter Solstice upon us, it’s natural to lean toward rest and reflection as we await the magic that a new year brings. I’ve decided to do the same by enjoying quiet candlelit evenings, time with family and loved ones, long walks in the woods, cooking delicious and nourishing meals and cozy afternoon naps, and then coming back here refreshed and rejuvenated in the New Year. I hope you’ll do what feels good and natural to you over the next 2+ weeks too, and I’ll leave you with one last post for 2014… it’s a long (but fun) one so make a cup of Mayan hot chocolate and settle in. May it inspire your senses and soothe your spirit.

I deeply appreciate the many soul-stirring things I discovered, experienced and saw over the last 12 months or so. Here’s a shortlist of some of my favorites that might inspire you as this year closes and the new one begins. (I’m not formally endorsing these things in any way or receiving any compensation for including them. I just like them and want to share.)

Soundtrack for reading: My Favorite Things (John Coltrane)

  1. I hadn’t traveled much in the years leading up to 2014, so I indulged my pent up wanderlust as I visited Red Rock Canyon (near Las Vegas, NV) and Mount Desert Island in Maine. If you’re looking for unusual and breathtaking natural beauty, these treks are for you.
  2. When I started working at a local art center in 2000, there was an encaustic painting by local artist Tremain Smith hanging on the office wall. I always felt very drawn to the sublime layers of texture and color. A few months ago, I went to one of her gallery openings and finally had the pleasure of meeting her. This was shortly after I had started making my own collages, so it felt like divine timing was in play when she told me about the spiritual nature of her artwork.
  3. I love to hike and try to go several times a week if possible. When it’s really cold or windy, or when I need a different kind of movement, I do Mary Helen Bower’s Ballet Beautiful. I took ballet as a 7-year-old and wish I had stuck with it – it just feels good and it’s a great workout.
  4. Ever been to a burlesque review? Ooo la la! Sexy & suave, witty & talented, clad in velvet, sequins and good dose of panache – and that’s just the audience! I had the pleasure of attending a show and I’d highly recommend it. Inject some fun & fanfare into your life while celebrating the curves, bumps & grinds of true beauty. (You’ll thank me when you’re snowed in for a week in February.)
  5. I created a Melody Gardot station on Pandora – it pulls up the likes of Amos Lee (also Philly-born like Melody) and some lovely Latin guitar instrumentals. It’s perfect for cooking a romantic dinner, writing in your journal, dancing or even just looking out the window on a rainy Saturday afternoon. C’est si bon!
  6. I like a nice glass of red wine – sometimes with manchego & crackers, sometimes alone – and this year I found Santa Julia, an organic Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina, that’s well-priced and yummy – think: un-sweet black cherries + pepper + vanilla. Best to drink it with a very close compadre while wearing brown suede boots (just try it).
  7. Here’s a DIY spin on tea-lights: when they get liquidy, drop in some essential oils for a fragrant and sensual experience. I like these combos: ylang-ylang + lemon; bourbon vanilla; cinnamon + orange + clove; lavender + frankincense + clary sage. Your heart and head will swoon a little.
  8. I had a dream I was making this so I plan to try it, maybe for Christmas brunch: slice the top 1/3 off of a croissant and set the bottom in an oiled baking dish (obviously you can do as many as you want, but since it was developed in my imagination and is untested maybe try just 1 at first?). Pour a scrambled egg mixture with whatever add-ins you like (brie, scallions & chopped spinach maybe?) into the crevasses of the croissant (it can run out a little into the dish. Bake at 350 degrees till the eggs are cooked. (I woke up before it went into the oven so I’m guessing on the temperature.) I suppose you could top it with the top of the croissant, right? Certainly someone in Paris has done this already. I think I’ll try it first and then see if I can find a recipe – more fun that way!

8b. In case you don’t want to risk it, here’s something that’s been tested and approved by a foodie dinner club I had the pleasure of attending. It’s my version of the one you can often find on the Whole Foods buffet: wheat berries (look up how to cook them), dried cranberries, chopped celery & scallion, small cubes of Gouda cheese (and/or nuts would be good too). Mix together. In a separate bowl combine: raspberry chipotle mustard (I get this regionally-made one at my local co-op – crazy good), pomegranate (or similar) vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup (or similar), salt & pepper and a pinch of cayenne. I make up my own dressings so I just eyeball the amounts – if you’re not used to doing that, go easy on the vinegar and add a little bit at a time till it tastes yummy and balanced. Whisk well to emulsify (mine was pretty thick) and stir it into the wheat berry mixture. You can add chopped flat leaf parsley at the end if you like. Overall, it has a nice chewy-crunchy texture with a little sweet/tart/heat action, and it just feels healthy.

9.You know how you can hear something several (or many) times and it doesn’t quite click until one day it does? That happened to me in early 2014 – I finally really listened to and absorbed the teachings of Abraham-Hicks. In the length of one video, all the random ideas that I’ve had while forming Sacred Sensual Living came together into a cohesive and viable “what and why.” Deep down I knew my ideas and theories had merit because it’s how I live and thrive: immersed in the beauty & pleasure of life, connected to my intuition, nourished in my heart, with a joyous and peaceful soul. But discovering that the under-pinning was aligned with the A-H philosophy helped me see how I can make Sacred Sensual Living highly practical and useful (in addition to beautiful, of course). I’ll be writing much more about this and creating a variety of new resources for you in the New Year, so check back (and/or sign up for the mailing list) to learn more about how to mine your life’s sweet spots and create a more meaningful life – it’s easier than you might think!

  1. And last but not least, here’s a present for you. It’s the mantra I’ve had going through my head for months now. (Sometimes Ray LaMontagne’s voice sings it to me with a different last word to his title lyric: “Let it Be Me” Sorry, Ray, it just happens. It’s a beautiful song as is too, of course.) You can download the piece below and use it as desktop wallpaper or do with it whatever you like (sharing on FB, Pinterest, etc. is always appreciated!). (Note: for best resolution, click on the image to open full size then right click and choose set desktop wallpaper.)

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p style=”text-align: center;”>let it be easyThanks for hanging out with me as the year comes to a close. Remember: release, relax, rejuvenate. You deserve to enter 2015 feeling gooood. And most importantly, just enjoy.

PS – If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you’re missing out on some Sacred Sensual goodies! Make 2015 the year when you awaken your senses in a whole new way, connect to your powerful essence and feel how meaningful life can be… by learning how to let it be easy.

Embrace the Mystery

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. – John Muir

The Ramble 1

 

 

 

“[The Ramble was intended to be an] intricate disposition of lights
and shadows [to] create a degree of obscurity not absolutely impenetrable, but sufficient to affect the imagination with a sense of mystery.”
– Frederick Law Olmstead, co-designer of New York’s Central Park

 

 

 

 

The earth has music for those who listen. – George Santayana

The Ramble 2

There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
– John Lennon

Are you ready to receive the messages whispering from the
beauty that’s around you?
Are you listening to the music of your life?
Be where you are: receive, listen, embrace the mystery.

Jimi Hendrix Was Wise

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. – Jimi Hendrix

holding hands

The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, the story of love is hello, goodbye. – Jimi Hendrix

faded rose

Music is my religion. – Jimi Hendrix

It all has to come from inside, though, I guess. – Jimi Hendrix

music door

Jimi was wise.

11.27.42 – 9.18.70

Dipping into Dream World

During a World Cafe interview, Tracy Grammer relayed how her late husband, Dave Carter, explained his songwriting process. I’m paraphrasing, but Dave had said to Tracy something like: I always have one foot in the dream world. MG dark child on stairs

I call this state Writer’s Mind, or whatever mind applies to your art or craft. Chefs get into Chef’s Mind and Photographers switch into Photographer’s Mind. I’d guess many artists are nearly always walking around in this state, where they experience life through the lens of how it applies to their creative process. We all pick up stimulation through our senses, but when I’m in Writer’s Mind, I’m at once experiencing multiple sensory stimuli and already swirling it around and trying to relate it to a more universal meaning.

A child walking up a mosaic staircase could be sweet, scary or dreamy. I don’t know the outcome at the time, but I notice qualities that I want to capture, ones that will relate to subjects I like to write about: beauty, creativity, sacred moments, sublime images, transcendence.

The mundane details of daily life have a way of yanking me right out of Artist’s Mind. My head takes over and I become embroiled in lists, priorities and logistics. It’s nearly impossible for me to be in both states at the same time – I guess it’s a left/right brain thing. Just being aware of this let’s me drop logic mind fairly easily and step back into my heart and intuition. And dip at least a few toes back into the dream world, where the beauty that inspires me seemingly magically reappears.pool toes

Josh Ritter: Preacher & Poet

Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band at the Trocadero, 5/16: 

Josh 7
I went to a secret service in a wooded grotto and held the steamy hands of strangers as we gathered in a horseshoe shape around some ancient mossy rocks. Josh summoned the forest nymphs who sprinkled gold rain onto our leafy heads. He sang of love and beauty and nature and light.

Josh 6Josh 4

Then he leads us out of the woods and into a sunny meadow where we laughed at the dandelions and waded through the hula waves of tall grasses. Clouds race by like sailing ships, and we danced with the can-can tree tops in frilly skirts… kick, bounce, knee, bounce, kick, bounce… till they showed their petticoats and took a bow. I blew milkweed fluff and wondered how my bare feet could never before have been so connected to the damp earth, while my soul mingled so freely with the sun’s rays. Josh offered a blessing and the dandelions smiled.

Josh 3

(Josh is also a novelist – check out Bright’s Passage. I’ll write about it in a future post.)

Music Spirit Love

Jim James of My Morning Jacket on the spiritual nature of music and love:

“Music for me is a very spiritual and very religious process. It’s something that I feel like takes me to that place where the thinking me is gone. And I’ve really likened that a lot to love – to being in love, those moments in love, just being with a person or making love or talking or whatever – when you’re lost in it. You’re lost and you’re part of a greater moment. I’ve always likened love and music together, and since I’ve gotten into meditation, I’ve likened them all to being similar, to where you’re transported to a place where you don’t really exist anymore but you exist – the purest essence of you – exists on the most basic, beautiful plane.”

Jim James, interview on World Cafe

love rose

Rock Star Crushes

Live music feeds my soul.  Leads me into a tunnel and then gently, or wantonly, pushes me out into a velvet meadow.  Swaying milkweed, sunny caresses, feet stomping on crumbly earth, spirit rustling the treetops.

tree heartI become one with the notes and the voices.  Then comes the sweet spot where the crowd “ahhhs” from a deep place, in unison – a tribal knowing.

And the singer, all swagger and sex,   inhaling the screaming ecstasy of the crowd surrounding him.

I want to meet him later, but not to hook up.  I want to hear what makes him tick.  How his creativity plays with him or tortures him.  What voice does he hear?  What makes him ecstatic?  What feeds his soul?

What are you afraid of giving up?

Me:  Why do you think you never made it big?

Him:  Music is a hard industry to succeed in. Especially in Nashville.

Me:  Do you think you were afraid of success?

Him:  Is that a thing?

Me:  Sure. Lots of people are but I think many don’t know it.

Him:  Why are people afraid?  Isn’t success what they want?

Me:  Sometimes their emotions are working below the surface and keep them stuck in the familiar, safe zone.

Him:  How do I know?

Me:  Think about what you’d be giving up if you made it big.

Him:  Okay.  (pause)  Are you afraid of success?

Me:  I have been, but I’m getting over it.

Him:  What are you afraid of giving up?

Me:  Freedom.

Him:  In what way?

Me:  The freedom to create, to have the time to create. It’s the same with relationships for me. I worry that if I’m living with someone I love I won’t have the time to myself that I need to think, write, alchemize and just go with my creative flow.

Him:  But lots of married people are successful.

Me:  Of course.  That’s how I know my fear is just that, and not a reality.

Him:  Why do you think you have that fear?

Me:  My mom basically gave up being an artist to be a wife and mother.  I never saw that you could have both a successful creative career and a husband and family.

Him:  That sucks.

Me:  Not at all.  I know the issue so I just keep telling myself that I can have both, that I don’t need to choose one over the other.  I have freedom now but if I was successful I’d have even more – money, choices… That’s where the ability to know what I want and say “no” to what I don’t want is crucial. If I start doing things that don’t fulfill me, then I lose my freedom.  So.  What are you afraid of giving up?